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You just lost a key staffer to a new opportunity. You were totally surprised and didn’t see it coming. Now you have to find someone soon. You heard that it’s a good idea to do an exit interview.
But that may be a waste of time.
Exit interviews don’t often yield enough information to answer why your people leave. Many managers assume the reasons were better benefits and more money. If you can just pay more, people will stay longer?
If you do meet with the departing staffer, you want to know why they left and what you could have done better. But the exiting employee has no interest in being candid enough to educate you on their way out. They just want to start their next adventure.
Advanced retention techniques
The answer is the “stay interview.” It isn’t focused on why people leave. The goal is why great people stay. Just think of those who you want to keep. What makes them want to stay even though they are being recruited by your competitors.
Ask them to imagine three years in the future and ask what happened that let them know it was a great place to work and you both had a great relationship. Employees don’t leave companies. They leave because of either co-workers or bosses. This identifies what three things kept them. When you find out what those three things are, you can use them as goals for the staffer during future performance appraisals.
Using the “stay interview” to retain great people
1. Ask, “Let’s assume it’s three years in the future. What happened between now and then that made you think it was a great place to work and we had a great relationship?”
Listen. Don’t interrupt. Get three goals.
Listen for three goals or needs. it will be very tempting for you to interrupt and sell the staffer on what you will do and even how lucky they are to work for you. Bite your tongue and be empathetic. If you interrupt, you won’t hear what you will need to retain that person.
2. Quantify their emotions.
Often candidates will talk about happiness, income, and quality of life. It’s up to you to make these tangible and measurable. Ask, “What does happiness mean to you.” Keep drilling every emotion down until the employee gives you a number. Will it be a certain balance in their 401(k)? Will it be 20% increase in salary? Will it be home by six to spend time with the family? Will it be more flexibility for family needs? Bottom line: Find out how they and you will know if they hit their goals.
3. Recap and trial close.
A recap is making people feel understood. In one US Trust study, 86% bought a product because they felt understood. Only 4% bought because they were made to understand. The recap is always a statement like, “If I heard you correctly, you said you wanted to leave by 5pm every evening, increase your pay by 10% next year and put $500 a month into your son’s college fund. Did I get that right?”
A trial close is a sales technique that gets people to commit to a solution. A trial close always includes the words, “If we can-----, would that be a goal for you.” Or, “If we can focus on-----, would that be a benefit?”
Using the ”let’s assume” technique in retaining great people
You should use the stay interview with any employee you want to keep. Since we know new hires will leave a position between six months and one year, you should do a performance review three months after the hire and continue every three months from then on.
It’s very easy to assume what an employee wants. But what you think may not be what they want. It’s only until you can put the employee’s goals in concrete that you will be able to retain them.
One of my coaching clients heads an RIA with 10 employees. His office manager quit out of the blue taking the compliance officer. He attempted to do an exit interview. But there was no benefit for the departing manager to be candid. She just said, “I found a better opportunity. You are wonderful. Thanks for all that you’ve done. But I’m moving on.” That was a worthless exit interview.
If my client could have initially done the stay interview and reviewed the employee’s three goals every three months, both may have stayed. Employees don’t leave a good job they enjoy because of a better opportunity. They leave jobs when they are not hitting their goals and have to suffer through bad relationships.
It may be difficult to ensure that your staff is candid. They may initially tell you what you want to hear. Like, “Three years from now, I want to make a contribution to the company.” It’s up to you to listen carefully and get them to focus on what they want, not what is best for you and the company.
None of my coaching clients who have done the stay interview and reviewed goals frequently has lost an employee they wanted to keep. You need to get good an keeping great people. For every person you can keep, there is one less person you need to recruit.
I would love to send you a free video of “The Stay Interview.” Write me at [email protected] or call 714-368-3650. We will spend a few minutes talking about your goals for increasing your business this year.
Dr. Kerry Johnson is “America’s Business Psychologist.” He is the best-selling author of 17 books including the recently released, How to Recruit, Hire and Retain Great People. He is also a frequent speaker at financial conferences around the world. Peak Performance Coaching, his one-on-one coaching program, promises to increase your business by 80% in 8 weeks. To see if you are a candidate for this fast-track system, click on www.KerryJohnson.com/coaching and take a free evaluation test. You will learn about your strengths and what is holding you back. Or call, 714-368-3650 for more information.
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